by KITTY ALDEN
The souks of Marrakech are iconic, many travel to Morocco in search of treasures old and new, and the souks in the bustling Medina are the best places to source forgotten goods.
It is ever so easy to get completely lost in the network of souk channels, so take a moment to catch your bearings and plan accordingly. One of the first things you’ll notice once you are immersed in the veins of the market streets, is the intense smell of leather that wafts from street to street, alive with hints of spices and potpourri. The earthy souks are home to thousands of market stalls selling all sorts of wonderfully Moroccan crafted goods, you’ll pass by leather shoes, ornate handbags, woven rugs, gleaming ceramics and wooden figures.
SOUK AND YE SHALL FIND
The souks are a tapestry of history, the crumbling walls held together with wooden slats, the century old doors leading you to garden courtyards, and the smells of fermenting spices whisk you into a Moroccan blur. Local craftsmen set up small studios in the souks, where they spend their days finely crafting and shaping wooden bowls, painting ceramic pots and weaving blankets; it is an honour to observe them work away so effortlessly. This traditional work is an art form, so perfectly executed and pure. We stopped by the workshops to watch the creation of eyeliner pots, small intricate wooden pots with a lid and small stick for applying the blackest of eyeliner, each one painted so delicately.
A PIGMENT OF OUR IMAGINATION
Some of our favourite places to visit deep in the depths of the Marrakech souk are the many pharmacies that exist, scattered across the city. You can spot them by the tables outside, tables laden with bowls of pigment powder of the most extraordinary colours, wilder than that of the imagination.
These incredibly vibrant colours are found all over the city, velvet powders with such an intensity you have to blink twice to make sure your eyes are not deceiving you. The Blue Majorelle is perhaps the brightest of all and it is of course named after French artist Jacques Majorelle who feel deeply in love with Morocco and honoured the city by creating his garden, Jardin Majorelle just outside the Medina. You can click here to read more about the garden and its history.
The brown pigment, top left, is named the ‘Blue Magic’ an earthy hue that when mixed with any other substance such as water, oil or paint transforms into a generous blue colour, a whimsically wonderful powder that originates from the natural minerals at the base of the mountains. The red powder, is a versatile substance which is the basis for the famous Moroccan lipstick. This powder is crafted and fired into small pot like ornaments, the intention is to then smear water on their surface and collect on ones finger a fantastically rich stain which can be used as a lipstick or a blush.
The souks of Marrakech are a complex labyrinth of colour, and detail, a treasure chest of lanterns, jewellery, spices and clothes. People travel from around the world to get lost in its elaborate channels that glisten into the night.